Avaya CEO Calls For Democratization, Integration Of UC

The move was both symbolic and a bit of good natured ribbing, going back to last year when Cisco left a bite-sized chocolate bar on D'Ambrosio's hotel bed pillow. This year, however, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco upped the ante, leaving the CEO a much bigger indicator of how the competition in the unified communications market is heating up.

"Remember this from last year? This little gift I got," D'Ambrosio said, hoisting up the small treat before pulling out the larger model he received this year, promptly snapping it in half and tossing it aside.

Breaking down the competition aside, D'Ambrosio's key message was that unified communications needs to be democratized. UC needs to be available to everyone, regardless of where they work or what role they play within their organizations.

"Unified communications should not be just for the elite few, it should be for everybody," he said, noting that arming an organization with a Cisco TelePresence solution is high-quality, but costly, while an Avaya solution for a similar price can bring high-quality video to 4,000 desktops.

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D'Ambrosio also called on presidential candidates to get his point across, streaming video and sound bites of Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama calling for change during recent speeches, which had little to do with unified communications, but punctuated his message.

D'Ambrosio said UC democratization can start with new releases from Avaya, including its mobile worker solution that ties together video, VPN, speech access, mobility, one-number access, desktop integration and services starting at $0.15 per user, per day, for three years. Along with offering the mobile worker solution, Avaya on Tuesday unveiled role-based communications solutions focused on specific sets of workers, including teleworkers, home agents and branch office, retail and bank workers.

"It's how people work and it's where people work," he said.

By offering business communications, applications and systems for as little as $0.15 per day that include video and other collaborative applications, Avaya said it hopes to offer the tools essential to boost productivity with interoperable software, hardware and services from both Avaya and its ecosystem of partners. The goal is for employees to become more productive and collaborative wherever they're located and to extend customer service beyond just the contact center and into branch offices and remote locations.

"How do we harness all the human capital we have to get them focused on the customer?" D'Ambrosio asked.

The CEO also highlighted Avaya's new Intelligent Presence solution, which the vendor unveiled at VoiceCon. The Intelligent Presence Server aggregates telephony, desktop and applications presence information from Avaya and third-party vendors, including Microsoft and IBM and uses industry standards like SIP/SIMPLE and XMPP. Coming in the second quarter, Intelligent Presence is designed to help workers reach the right person across different vendor platforms, channels or devices to boost productivity and communications efficiency. By imbedding the information into business applications and processes, Intelligent Presence can automatically connect users, while the users can apply rules and policies to control their presence information.

D'Ambrosio noted that Avaya will soon bring solutions to Second Life, allowing unified communications in a virtual reality.

D'Ambrosio also keyed in on the theme of going green at VoiceCon, highlighting how unified communications solutions can better the environment.

"If everybody worked just one day a week from home, we would remove 6 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere," he said.

And despite his initial jab at Cisco, D'Ambrosio called for a climate of interoperability, trumpeting Avaya's key partnerships with IBM, Microsoft and even Cisco to integrate solutions.

He pointed to Avaya's Integrated Branch Solutions, which leverage Microsoft OCS and Lotus Sametime and Expediter, and retail solutions that tie in call boxed from Indyme and mobile devices from Motorola. Other solutions to boost communications capabilities, he said, include one-X Mobile, which ties together various smartphones such as the iPhone, BlackBerry and Palm devices with the same communications interface and the one-X Communication tools that integrate softphone capabilities, H323, SIP, video conferencing and presence.

"It's not unusual for a company to be running Avaya solutions on a Cisco network," he said, later adding that "while we are fierce competitors in the market, we work very closely together in the stack. At the end of the day, unified communications is not about Cisco; it's about you and we take that deadly serious."